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Commission of Audit watchdog report warns against health, welfare cuts

Media Release
Richard Di Natale 24 Apr 2014

The Senate Inquiry into the Abbott government's Commission of Audit has today tabled a new interim report, which covers evidence presented on the effects of predicted budget cuts in the areas of health, social services and employment.

"The evidence received by the Committee directly contradicts the Government's line on the economy," said Senator Richard Di Natale, chair of the Senate Select Committee conducting the inquiry.

"Economists gave evidence that the state of the economy is not what the government has told the Australian people. There is no budget emergency or debt crisis. We have a solid, low-taxing economy and an efficient health system.

"What became clear through this inquiry is that Australia can afford the services Australians value and respect. Health and welfare should be the last places to look for cuts to balance the budget. Today's report details the consequences ordinary Australians will suffer if the government goes ahead with its radical plan to abolish bulk billing and wind back other essential services.

"The Commission of Audit is a flawed process, which we've learned today didn't even take into account Mr Abbott's so-called ‘Direct Action' scheme, because it wasn't provided with the details. What we're seeing here is the PM's hand-picked Liberal mates working toward a pre-determined outcome, which is to justify health and welfare cuts, handouts to industry and a shift to a user-pays model for government services.
"The Treasurer's remarks last night make it clear Australians are in for a tough time. Nearly every government service is in the firing line for huge cuts, privatisation, a co-payment or just being scrapped altogether.

"This government's priorities are all wrong. Rather than slashing and burning front-line services that Australia needs, the Abbott government should be looking at raising revenue. My committee heard evidence that a proper inquiry should be made into industry subsidies and generous tax concessions, which together are in the tens of billions of dollars each year."

The Senate Inquiry's interim report is available from the committee website:
http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Abbott_Go...

The Treasurer, Joe Hockey, last night indicated that the Commission of Audit's own report would be made public next week.

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